BNF Bank wins The Banker, ‘Bank of the Year 2021’ Award for 2nd Consecutive Year

BNF Bank has been awarded ‘Bank of the Year 2021’ for the second consecutive year, retaining its position as one of the leading financial institutions in Malta. This year, the judges of ‘The Banker’ a publication of the Financial Times, recognised the steadfast commitment exhibited by BNF Bank towards its customer base, focusing on its adaptation to establish sustainable long-term strategic growth, digital transformation and societal responsibility.

BNF Bank proved to be a reliable partner for its customers, providing them with a seamless experience and crafting the best possible solutions to meet their needs throughout life’s journey.

By combining leading technology with the human element of its people, drawing from their insights, experience and expertise, BNF Bank positioned itself as playing a key role in establishing stability for what the future holds and building a new future underpinned by a strong recovery.

Despite the turbulence faced by banking institutions across the globe, BNF Bank reported an increase in profitability throughout 2021, indicating a strong financial performance that serves as the foundation for the bank’s objectives for the forthcoming three years.

The award also acts as a commendation for BNF’s effective crises management solutions, which prioritises the health and safety of staff while achieving continuity in business processes.

Commenting on the award in his award acceptance speech, Michael Anthony Collis, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at BNF Bank, explained that “during the past two years, we have increased our efforts to provide superior customer service and to work towards establishing stability along the path to economic recovery. In the face of challenge, we are proud to be recognised as a strong pillar of the financial services sector within our society.”

Having successfully laid out its digital transformation roadmap, BNF Bank seized the opportunity to accelerate its plan over the past year and work towards achieving this long-term strategy.

Innovation is the driving force behind the digitisation of BNF’s services, which includes extended customer support hours using virtual dialogue, an improved User Interface for BNF’s online banking platform, launching a mobile application, upgrading the Chatbot and shifting towards contactless payments on both debit and credit cards.

While BNF Bank is focused on growing its own digital channels, the technology drive remains solidly founded on the notions of scalability, speed, security and stability – foundations for the BNF digital transformation journey.

“Owing to the continuous support and investment by the shareholders, BNF Bank has succeeded in implementing a customer-centric strategy through a localised and community-based approach which is pivotal to the Bank’s strategy to become the Bank of choice in Malta” explained Mr Collis.

Whilst praising his team members for this recognition, he added that “this step was facilitated by the strengthening of our core business of Retail and Corporate Banking, together with our internationalisation drive that has been bolstered by the opening of our London branch.

This enables us to forge even closer ties to the Maltese economy as well as establish strong relationships with leading international banks. Through innovation and dedication of all our staff, we can continue to ensure a seamless, modern and personalised banking experience for our customers,” said Mr Collis.

Digitalisation: The Way Forward

Earlier this week the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry organised an event as part of SME Week 2021 titled ‘Digitalisation: The Way Forward’, promoting the importance of building digital, smart and resilient businesses.

The event was organised in collaboration with our esteemed Bronze Partners, BMIT and Western Union Business Solutions, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Economy and Industry.

In her opening remarks, Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb said, “The biggest risk that the world can face at this point in time is an attack on digital.” She also pointed out the increase in the use of and dependence on technology, particularly since the pandemic struck.

Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, delivered a client-centric and insightful presentation explaining how industry can optimise on funding for industry to go digital. She delved into terms and conditions applicable for micro, small, medium, and large businesses, explaining techniques on how to tap into growth, R&D and internationalisation support with an optimal returns-on-investment.

In his keynote speech, Mr Mark Anthony Camilleri, Country Manager and Executive Director of Western Union Business Solutions in Malta, stated “The integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, including payments, is fundamentally changing how we operate and delivering value to customers. The global pandemic rendered digitisation a crucial priority, reflecting an acceleration cultural change that requires organisations of all sizes to undergo without further delay.”

Mr Camilleri outlined the importance for businesses to venture globally and become flexible by highlighting several misconceptions about international payments.

A panel discussion, moderated by Julia Aquilina, Policy Development Executive at The Chamber, followed. Topics focused on digital readiness, innovation, policy-making requirements and the promotion of digital-ready practices.

Mr Nick Tonna, CCO at BMIT and Mr Kyle Anastasi, Client Technology Lead at Microsoft explained the importance of investing in digital and innovative solutions, highlighting how digital advanced firms have been better placed to adjust and emerge stronger from the current recovery phase.

EU Climate Webinar Highlights Malta’s Insularity Challenges

Released in July 2021, the Fit For 55 package is the first set of legislative proposals seeking to move the EU towards the goal of climate neutrality by 2050, as outlined in the EU Green Deal. The package covers issues ranging from increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy, to reducing the emissions generated by the building and transport sectors, including maritime and aviation.

Amongst the several proposals put forward, the European Commission aims to increase energy efficiency obligations on member states as well as the share of renewable energy in their final energy consumption, remove tax exemptions of maritime and aviation fuel, promote the use of sustainable fuels, and increase the supply of adequate charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Opening the webinar, Head of the European Commission Representation in Malta, Dr. Elena Grech asserted the importance of immediate action, “If we do not take climate action now, we are going to miss our chance. The ambition is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. The European Commission is proposing to achieve this through impactful legislation and practical assistance to Member States through its Recovery and Resilience Funds.”

MBB CEO Joe Tanti welcomed the increased climate ambition, considering it necessary to safeguard long term prosperity, growth, and job creation. Nonetheless, he argued that “policy measures should always be designed keeping in mind the economic context they are operating in. Businesses are just starting to recover from the worst economic downturn since the 2008 financial crisis. It is critical that new or revised policy measures do not hamper business competitiveness or introduce disproportionate financial costs that will invariably be felt by companies and impact consumers.”

In her statement, Hon. Dr. Miriam Dalli, Minister responsible for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development, argued that the energy sector across Europe is currently feeling post-pandemic effects. Minister Dalli added that while some questioned the EU Green Deal’s validity during the pandemic, she believes it will in fact underpin Europe’s post-recovery effort.

Moderated by Media Consultant Rachel Attard, the webinar featured a high-level panel discussion between Diederik Samsom (Head of Cabinet of European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans), Ing. Patrick Spiteri Staines (Chairperson of The Malta Chamber’s Energy Committee) and Prof. Simone Borg (Head of the Environmental & Resources Law Department at the University of Malta). The discussion centered around the potential implications of the Fit For 55 Package on Maltese businesses.

Recognizing Malta’s geographic limitations, the panelists argued that more research and investment should be dedicated towards applying innovative technologies which generate greener energy and reduce atmospheric carbon emissions. This would help push Malta beyond its minimum targets, especially on renewable energies.

The drive towards a greener European economy will also represent several opportunities for businesses to delve into new areas and focus on the sustainability and efficiency of their operations, cutting down waste in the process.

Finally, the panel stressed the importance of providing suitable financial support to those businesses and communities which will be hardest hit by stricter environmental legislation.

Other interventions were made by Kevin Borg, CEO of the Malta Maritime Forum, Dr. Nadia Giordimaina, General Manager International Affairs of Air Malta, and Perit David Xuereb, former President of the Malta Chamber.

These Commission proposals are just the first step towards enacting the new and revised set of EU legislation. Agreement on common texts must now be sought between the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.